27 DECEMBER 2006
Christmas Eve - a day of solidarity
Asturian sport was celebrated on 24 December in a "day of solidarity", at the sports centre in Vallobín, Oviedo.
More than 200 children, belonging to local sports clubs and schools, joined professional sports stars and journalists in a day of sport and fun.
1300 spectators watched as the young people gave exhibitions of football, dancing, judo, handball and all-in wrestling whilst the sports stars took on the journalists at football and basketball. The sports team won the football 6-2 (or maybe 6-1, reports vary) with the journalists prevailing in basketball 3-2.
There were opportunities for autographs and an abundant prize draw for football shirts and cycling tops.
The aim of the day was to offer motivation and a good example to young people, contribute toys to underprivileged children and to kick off the Christmas celebrations.
19 DECEMBER 2006
Elite sport in Asturias
La Nueva España also reports that Chechu took part in a public seminar at the University of Oviedo on Tuesday night, an event to discuss elite sport in Asturias.
Other Asturian sports stars taking part included Rosa Fernández Rubio (mountaineer), Manuel Busto Fernández (paraglider), Jenaro Díaz Fernández (basketball trainer).
Chechu talked about his studies in industrial engineering, when he juggled training, racing, travelling and studying. "It's taken ten years to finish this race."
Inevitably, the discussion came round to doping. "Unfortunately, it is almost always only about cycling," Chechu said. "It's also necessary to review the banned product list, a colleague was recently punished for using cream for haemorrhoids, this was announced on TV. Now they want to force us to give DNA samples. I believe that sportsmen have the same rights as any citizen. Cyclists should be treated the same as other sportsmen."
On financial support for sport, Chechu commented that "in the USA, there's better planning, less improvisation than here (Spain), which allows companies to support sport."
Chechu encourages children to take up sport, as it is possible to do sport and study. "It enriches you, helps you to know places and gives you a sense of comradeship."
16 DECEMBER 2006
feature from Cycle Sport, January 2007 issue
Rubiera speaks out for Puerto riders
Working with Fuentes doesn't mean guilt, Disco man says
Discovery Channel rider José Luis Rubiera has told CS that professional cyclists: "should not be stopped from racing just because they've worked with Dr Fuentes in the past."
Rubiera, widely respected for his work as a deputy spokesman for the Professional Riders' Association (CPA), said that he had worked with Fuentes when he was riding with Kelme.
"He was our doctor for four years. I know if my name had appeared on that famous list [of Fuentes collaborators, which led to Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Joseba Beloki being excluded from the Tour de France] right now I would be excluded from my team, unable to work, and with my career in ruins.
"They can't stop riders from racing just because they've worked with Fuentes in the past. Everybody has the right to have a doctor to help them with their training - and that includes working with Fuentes.
"If there was anything suspicious going on, then it should be sorted out," Rubiera said. But he said it shouldn't be sorted in the way cycling authorities treated riders following Operación Puerto.
"If riders were found to have been implicated in a suspected doping case, then they should have been warned by the UCI that they would be subject to even greater controls than before. They shouldn't have had their names dragged through the mud and then been stopped from working for six months," Rubiera said.
Rubiera blasted Puerto as: "a completely botched-up job that has led to nothing except some people being out of work."
His comments contrast with those of Spanish minister of sport Jaime Lissavetzsky, who recently described Puerto as "a brilliant police operation".
Ruberia also insisted: "Cycling was just one sport that Fuentes worked in. Two hundred bags of blood mean 200 implicated people - from different sports, not just cyclists. But we haven't been treated equally."
More about CycleSport magazine
interview from Cycle Sport, January 2007 issue
Experts on the ProTour : Highlights and lowlights of this year in the words of people who talk, write and do cycling for a living
Who was your rider of the year?
Paolo Bettini. He's a rider who's been looking for victory in the World Championships year after year and he really deserved to get it. Proof that if you want something hard enough, you finally get it.
What was the most memorable performance of the year?
If you look beyond what happened in the Tour de France, Ivan Basso's spring was pretty amazing. He started winning in the Critérium International, continued with victories in other races and then dominated the Giro d'Italia in a way that hadn't been seen for years. On top of that, he went to the Tour de France to fight for the podium.
What was the most disappointing thing about 2006, outside the doping scandals?
The appalling crashes, like the one Christophe Brandt had this autumn. They keep on happening and people don't remember that.
What was the best one-day race of the year?
The end of the World Championships. The whole last lap was great, but I was particularly impressed by the way my friend Samuel Sánchez of Euskaltel blew the race apart at the last possible moment.
What was the best stage race of the year?
The Tour de France. Leaving aside what happened afterwards, the changes of leadership, the way Floyd Landis cracked and fought back, the total uncertainty. After years where Lance Armstrong's domination had reached the point of being boring at times, it was great not to know what was going to happen each day.
If you were the UCI, what would you change about cycling for '07?
I would try to stop being so keen about being at the forefront of the fight against doping come what may and concentrate more on protecting riders' health. Cycling has already been the first with so many measures, like the haematocrit tests, and now they're pushing for DNA testing. There's no way they should stop being so tough on the cheats, I think the penalties for people who cross the line are the correct ones and if somebody's caught, they should be suspended. But the riders' health should come first.
What single measure would you introduce to help the fight against drug cheats?
Form a panel of team doctors - 90 per cent of whom are only interested in keeping their riders healthy - to decide on what are the most effective measures to take against doping.
Most surprising thing about 2006?
The fact that Floyd Landis tested positive. Nobody in their right minds takes a banned drug when they know they are going to get tested. I find it almost impossible to understand why a rider in his situation would take a banned drug like that. There's something illogical about the way it all happened.
Who was your unsung hero of 2006?
Xavier Zandio, the Caisse d'Epargne domestique. He did fantastic work for his leaders in the major tours and that rarely gets appreciated outside the team.
More about CycleSport magazine
10 DECEMBER 2006
feature from elcommerciodigital.com, translation by Christine Kahane
The Asturian professionals annoyed with the decision of the ProTour Association. Carlos Barredo and Chechu Rubiera refuse the expulsion of Discovery Channel and Active Bay of Manolo Saiz from this group of teams.
The news of the expulsion of Discovery Channel, and Active Bay owned by Manolo Saiz, from the Pro Tour Association has created deep concern and unease for four Asturian riders: Chechu Rubiera and Benjamin Noval, who belong to the same US team, and Carlos Barredo and Dani Navarro, who work for Astana.
Carlos Barredo is confident that in the end everything will be resolved and that “they won’t take away my team’s licence, because my wish is to proceed with the project of Manolo Saiz for the coming season”. However, the native of Oviedo, but who lives in Gijón, protects himself for he has signed a pre-contract with Quick Step, with the condition that he will join the Italo-Belgian team in case he is left without a team.
“I know that if the UCI does not tomorrow include my current team in the list that they will issue, several riders will have a hard time finding work, and in addition the auxiliaries and mechanics will be jobless. It’s sad.” says the rider.
A bunch of hypocrites
Chechu Rubiera is not astonished by this kind of news that hurts cycling so deeply “because we frequently hurt ourselves. Why is it possible to sign Basso for Discovery if his possible doping has not been cleared?” asks the Gijón veteran rider, who in turn says, “we cannot defend ourselves like other citizens because the law seems to apply differently to the cycling world”.
In addition, Chechu Rubiera is convincing when he states that “the majority of the managers in this association are a bunch of hypocrites because, if it is proved that Basso has doped, Discovery would logically apply the ethical code and would dismiss him from the team.”
The decision of the ProTour Association does not imply that both teams will be expelled from the ProTour, because the matter depends solely on the International Cycling Union (UCI). Discovery has a licence until the end of 2008, a date that theoretically should be respected. In the case of Active Bay, one hopes that UCI decides tomorrow to extend its ProTour licence, if it finds a sponsor who guarantees to pay the salary of the members of the team.
However, the position of the rest of the teams will complicate matters a great deal, because they are determined to boycott the outfits managed by Manolo Saiz and Johan Bruyneel, not allowing them to enter the races where they have been accepted.
9 DECEMBER 2006
interview from La Nueva España, translation by Christine Kahane
Fans are getting fed up with the bad image of cycling
I am worried because in Spain 50 riders may find themselves without a team.
CHECHU RUBIERA, THE RIDER FROM GIJON AND REPRENTATIVE OF THE PROFESSIONALS BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL CYCLING UNION
Gijón, J.E. CIMA
Chechu Rubiera (born in Baldornon, 1973) is preparing for his thirteenth season as a professional. During his winter active rest, the rider from Gijón has many commitments, like now where he is taking part in the march campaign against cancer in Fuerteventura. As the second representative of the professional riders before the International Cycling Union, he is also preoccupied by and snowed under the situation of international cycling.
How are you managing this winter?
It’s a time when you want to relax and be with your family, but I have many commitments. From time to time, I am saturated but I don’t know how to say “no”. We also want to start a venture soon, we are putting together with sports friends in relation with mountain biking and hiking because, theoretically, it’s the period when we have more free time.
As a representative of the riders before the UCI, problems are also piling up.
I am a (deputy) substitute because Voigt is the first, and there is also Vasseur now. I give my opinion which is not always that of the majority. I am very worried because in Spain about 50 riders, including foreigners, may lose their jobs. And it will be difficult for them to find a new job, as is the case for Astana, and the disappearance of others like Kaiku and Comunidad Valenciana. Besides, the “Puerto affair” is detrimental to others.
What solution do you see?
None for the time being. A lot of riders call me and I call others through friendship, but I don’t have the power to influence directors and teams. Furthermore, nowadays technical directors make offers to good riders for less than one third of their contract.
On top of that, it’s war between the UCI and the major tours.
It’s sad for cycling, and the background is economics. The Tour wants to keep its income for rights on images, and the UCI wants it to share its income with others, such as riders, teams and Federations. In the end, like in every area of life, we are very selfish and little preoccupied by others.
I find you discouraged.
It’s because in the end, the teams will lose their head in order to compete in the Tour and the major classics. And quite far behind, there is the Giro and the Vuelta.
Who is going to win this battle?
We can lose everything in this arm-wrestling match, and we are getting weaker. The fans are getting fed up with the bad image of cycling caused by this rift, doping, and nonsense, not knowing anymore what is a ProTour, Continental Professional, and Continental team. The background of the ProTour is a good one, but only if the major organisers share their cake to improve things. Also, the UCI is looking for economical interests in new markets like Poland and other countries that have not had any importance in the cycling world up to now. But this should not be detrimental to other races that have a historical past and are important.
What will be the outcome of Operación Puerto?
Only the judge knows it. Some riders are accused of doping and one cannot find any proof against them, but still they are forbidden to exercise their profession. If it is proved that someone has overstepped the limits, he should be temporarily penalised, but without dramatising and making everyone think that in cycling, there are only drug addicts who are gambling with their lives.
The riders’ image could not be more damaged.
What I see is that people take cocaine like they would eat candies, and the bad thing in all this is we are sportsmen. This is not right, everything is exaggerated when the only thing we are looking for is to get a contract for riding and living. In addition, it’s true that we, riders, are not close together or there is a lack of communication. It makes you sick when you see that Voigt, who represents us in the UCI and who was Basso’s companion, now says that he does not want him to start riding again.
It seems to me a good thing that he should be our leader in the Tour, so it’s sure that he will reply and that we will also reply. Then, the French have different opinions to the Spanish. I think that we should have the same rights as any other citizen. If in the future, there is suspicion about a rider, but no proof or anything positive, he should be recognized as the real winner.
Get the latest off season news on our media page about Chechu supporting cycling initiatives in Asturias.
6 DECEMBER 2006 - UPDATED
Chechu is scheduled to take part in the 3rd Marcha Cicloturista Dunas de Corralejo today in Corralejo, Fuerte Ventura, Canary Islands.
The race is part of an important day of cycle sport, now in its third year. The event supports sufferers of cancer.
Santi Pérez will join Chechu and Oscar Pereiro, as well as teams Euskatel-Euskadi, Fuerteventura-Canarias and Islas Baleares.
Fuerte Ventura lies to the east of the Canaries, close to the Moroccan coast. The temperature on Wednesday is a sunny 18C.
29 NOVEMBER 2006
You might like to know that Asturian Samuel Sánchez won the 16th Memorial María Isabel Clavero on Saturday. Basque cyclist, Peio Arreitunandia (Barloworld) was second, Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) from Catalonia was third.
25 NOVEMBER 2006
Chechu is taking part in a four-day conference in the province of Laviana, south east of Oviedo, this week. The conference, supported by the local council, aims to promote cycling in the area and Chechu will be speaking during the week.
Santi Pérez and Benjamín Noval are also scheduled to take part. The final seminar on Thursday will be attended by professional cyclists, and other key speakers from Asturian cycling.
The programme also includes cycling videos, talks by paralympic medallist, José André Blanco and on sports medicine. There will be an exhibition of miniature bicycles.
A final diary event for Chechu last week, reported by La Neuva España, was a celebration of local youth cycle team, Ciudad de Oviedo-Tartiere Auto. Pro-cyclists Samuel Sánchez and Mario de Sárraga emerged from this successful team, which this season, won over 50 medals in regional and national competitions.
23 NOVEMBER 2006
It's been a good news week for Chechu Rubiera. La Neuva España reports today that he has joined forces with other local sports stars to promote activity and sports tourism in Asturias.
Their aim is to promote Asturias as a prestigious destination for cycling tours and activities around Asturias.
These ambassadors of paradise include cyclists Chechu Rubiera, Samuel Sánchez, Santi Pérez and Benjamín Noval, Rosa Fernández (the first Asturian female mountaineer to climb Everest) and world champion paraglider, Manuel Busto.
Routes through the breathtaking landscapes of Asturias include a coastal route heading west from the rocky landscape around el rio Infierno, through playa de Guadamía and los bufones de Llames de Pria to playa de Cuevas del Mar.
el rio Infierno and la playa de Cuevas del Mar
Rubiera and Noval have watched Lance Armstrong court sponsors and key figures from US cycling during the winter months. His excursions created a great atmosphere, resulting in a greater passion for cycling and the team.
The new group will restrict their target market to executives, business people and selected tourists who are looking for an elite sporting experience.
22 November 2006
There's more news about the 16th Memorial María Isabel Clavero race which takes place in Las Rozas, Madrid this Saturday (see media page).
The 28 stars of Spanish pro-cycling scheduled to take part include Igor Astarloa, Carlos Sastre, Oscar Friere, Benjamín Noval, Samuel Sánchez and last year's winner, Chechu Rubiera.
The racing starts at 4pm, riders will do twenty laps of the kilometre criterium circuit through Heron City and Las Rozas Village.
21 NOVEMBER 2006
Forget Operación Puerto and DNA for a minute, let's talk about food.
La Neuva España offers another glimpse of the good life of a resting cyclist, reporting that last Sunday, a group of Asturian pro-cyclists attended a dinner given in their honour by Gijón builder and long-term cycling fan, Valentin Cueva.
Chechu was there, and was joined by Benjamín Noval, Isidro Nozal, Daniel Navarro, Samuel Sanchez, Mario de Sárraga, Mario Sanchez, Paschal Javier and ex-pro Pipe Gómez.
Valentin Cueva supported Chechu as a young rider, and flies the Asturian flag at the big races, including this year, at the Giro and the Tour. The report says that his guests spent several hours recounting tales from the past season.
So what did they eat? Restaurante Sidrería Casa Justo in Gijón specialises in fish and seafood, barbequed, with paella and cooked with cider. A review in elcomerciodigital.com also proclaims their meat dishes to be full of virtue.
UPDATED : 19 NOVEMBER 2006
Chechu marches in support of Asturias
La Neuva España has posted a short video of last night's march in Oviedo. Organisers estimate that 15,000 Asturians, including Chechu Rubiera, took to the streets to urge the authorities to officially recognise the Asturian language.
Chechu was joined by politicians, business representatives, musicians, artists and writers.
The march was to culminate with a concert at Oviedo cathedral, with music from Celtic folk artists, Santi Caleya, Carlos Rubiera and Los Gatos del Fornu.
18 NOVEMBER 2006
Cycling Weekly magazine (UK) quotes Chechu on the question of DNA testing. They ask whether he would do a DNA test?
"I am totally in favour of doing DNA tests - but only if they are not obligatory. Cycling already does far more than any other sport, and that I feel is a good thing because it helps keep me and other riders healthy. But why should we be forced to take measures which are actually illegal? I can't speak for all the riders in my association, but I know a majority agree with me."
15 NOVEMBER 2006
Segundamano Mercado Noroeste reports that Chechu may participate in the XVI Memorial Ciclista María Isabel Clavero on Saturday 25 November.
Chechu has taken part in this race in the last few years, he won it in 2005.
Elite professionals, veterans and juniors will compete on 1km circuit, located in Las Rozas on the outskirts of Madrid. María Isabel Clavero was the sister of Madrid pro-cyclist Danial Clavero who was killed in a car accident.
3 NOVEMBER 2006 : MORE OPERACIÓN PUERTO
During the race day at the XIII Campeonato de la Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales on 29 October, Chechu Rubiera was amongst many cyclists who spoke with el Pais against the chaos of Operación Puerto.
"There is no proof against the riders. The judge has exonerated them and still, they cannot practise their profession." he said. "The damage is irreparable."
On Thursday 2 November, Chechu took part in a cycling conference in Moreda, Asturias. Organised by the local town council, Asturian cyclists Samuel Sánchez and Mario de Sárraga also spoke.
la neuva España reports that the present state of world cycling was one of the main issues discussed by the three cyclists, especially Chechu. They defended the innocence of their colleagues and criticised the ethical code of the UCI, which has left "riders, who are trying to prove their innocence, without a job for two years."
"We have brought a demand before the European court against this ethical code. It seems scandalous to me that, because of this, they do not let us work. We hope that these cyclists, punished by their teams, can return to competition soon."
26 OCTOBER 2006 : OPERACIÓN PUERTO
Online news service CM& in Bogotá, Colombia has reported the comments of Jens Voigt and Chechu Rubiera, both cyclists' representatives on the council for the UCI, about the Operación Puerto. Chechu has said,
"There is no proof and for this, they must be free (to work). There is no convincing proof that confirms that they doped. At this moment, there is no urine to examine and for this reason, a suspension by implication is unjust."
Winner of two stages of the Giro d'Italia, climber par excellence and inseparable team-mate of Lance Armstrong, Rubiera maintains that the UCI must respect the decisions of the (national cycling) federations, whatever they may be.
"The UCI cannot suspend, the federations must do it and they (UCI) must respect their decision. The cyclists ought to be racing, but are dismissed simply on suspicion. They are in limbo and the worst affected directly."
20 SEPTEMBER 2006 : ON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
A veteran of the World Championships, having taken part in five races since 1998, Chechu offers some advice to Samuel Sanchez, participating in his first World road race this week in Salzburg. El Comercio Digital reports,
Participating in the World Championships in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004, Chechu Rubiera is the last Asturian to have taken part in the road race.
He remembers his experience with the Spanish team.
"Usually they are long races, with very hard routes and some climbing, although they are exciting tests. The atmosphere is spectacular and, in my case, I had the luck to be part of a very good group of cyclists like Freire, Valverde and Astarloa".
Rubiera is like a lucky charm for the Spanish team, since he assisted Oscar Freire to three golds, in Verona in 1999 and 2004, and in Lisbon in 2001.
To fellow Asturian Samuel Sanchez, selected for the Spanish team this year, Chechu offers some advice, "It is an experience to enjoy. I'm sure that he will do it very well because, although it is a new race for him, it's a test in the style of the classics, which he likes."
Rubiera has no doubt about the key to a good race. "It is very important to have freedom, and if this happens, it is necessary to try not to move until the last two laps. If a cyclist goes too early, he ends up paying."
10 AUGUST 2006 : IN CONVERSATION
Earlier this week, Chechu was in conversation with Cuca Alonso of the Asturian news sheet, La Nueva España.
Do you remember your first bike?
My memories of it are confused, because I was no more than four years old. I know it was a BH with stabiliser wheels. As I was always a "destroyer", before I was 14, there were seven or eight broken bicycles. We lived in Baldornón, that is a place with roads, little traffic and steep hills.
And what are your milestones after twelve years of sporting competition?
Two wins in the Giro d'Italia, and sharing the last five Tours with Lance Armstrong.
You've been once on the podium; how come being so handsome the hostesses haven't put their hooks into you?
They only show off for the photo, although there are a lot of fellow riders who married them, for instance I remember Casero, Escartin, Bugno, Hincapie ... One day, in the middle of a race, Chaba Jimenez lost the phone number of a hostess and he went crazy, as if he had lost the most important stage.
Can you compare Miguel Indurain with Armstrong?
I didn't race in Indurain's team, but rode with him in two Tours. In sport, they are two phenomena and personally, I feel a devotion to Indurain; he is good, affable, simple ... they are both impressive to me because there is nobody we value more for their sporting exploits. Armstrong has great character and very clear ideas. I have experienced glory at his side.
Not everybody knows how to work in a team ...
It's a question of discipline. It never hurt my pride to do the work of a domestique if I know that my team-mate is stronger than me.
If the same happened to you that happened to Floyd Landis, what would you do?
It would be the greatest sorrow of my life, I hope that he can demonstrate his innocence.
They might remove cycling as an Olympic sport ...
That is a hypocrisy. For example, for the players of the NBA, they only control cocaine and other hard drugs. But they persecute cyclists, that way we have a worse image.
Is it possible to hold a Tour without doping?
Yes, I know this from experience. This year, I was tested seven times, and nothing. The stage winner and leader are tested daily. Everybody asks about doping, but nobody is interested to know how many hours we train, what kilometres we do in a year, what diet, what rest ... that's what truly counts.
And to have a big heart as well?
I am very sensitive. I suffer when I hear the news about the immigrants who reach the coast of Spain or when I see images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or those from Iraq ...
Driving a car must feel somewhat magic for you ...
I use it very little. In the year, I do 35,000km on a bike, in competitions and training. A tour of the world. The car doesn't do more than 20,000km.
Like bullfighters, do you have a religious ritual before the race?
Yes, everyone does. Including Armstrong, who's a non-believer, even he has a chain with a cross and a flag of Texas. I have a Virgin of Covadonga on the handlebars, and another Santina and a Santa Gema medallion, who protects against falls, around my neck. I remember I lost my first Santina on the Tourmalet.
What happened on Alpe d'Huez?
When Armstrong won a stage that was decisive for the victory ... that was in 2001. We were in the peloton, he said to me in Spanish, "We watch, we decide, we attack." And then it was decided. I attacked, with Armstrong on my wheel. My energy was enough to lead for 1km, and Armstrong's for 14km.
Have you ever felt that like you were dying on the bike?
So many times. I had to abandon a Giro because of gastroenteritis. And I had blurred vision many times; these crises are very hard to overcome and you even feel that you are becoming blind.
Will you do the Vuelta de España?
No, I have ridden in the Giro and the Tour , nobody does the three races. I like the Giro a lot, it's more romantic, more crazy and free. The Tour is pure business. Also the Italian public really understands cycling.
With what will you celebrate Begoña?
With a glass of cider and admiring the fireworks from Mount Deva or Pic San Martin.
The Virgin of Covadonga is also called Santina in Asturias and we think Begoña is a celebration day for Saint Begoña. We're checking this.
25 JULY 2006 : A LOST OPPORTUNITY
On his return to Asturias on Monday, Chechu voiced his regret to El Comercio Digital about not taking advantage of the absence of the favourites and of Armstrong at this year's Tour de France.
"I wasted a good opportunity, because I did not have to work as in other years, and also there were important losses before the beginning of the race. It was a disappointing, frustrating race, as much for me as for the team."
At the farewell supper on Sunday night, there was no feeling of euphoria. Nevertheless, Chechu was satisfied that he had finished the race.
"As much as our bosses, Armstrong and Bruyneel, congratulated us for our effort, they regretted our bad luck at key moments in the race."
Chechu couldn't explain why the objectives of the team weren't fulfilled.
"We discussed it after the race, we did not find a reason because we had prepared ourselves well. I believe that it is not ideal to compete in a race as hard as the Tour so soon after completing the Giro d'Italia. Although I was in good shape arriving at the Tour, the effort I showed in the Giro, to help Savoldelli ... I had to work hard."
"I was on the verge of abandoning on the Plat de Beret stage, that was almost the worst moment."
On Tuesday, Chechu will undergo tests to determine if the infection might be something more. He now only thinks about "resting to recover" so that he is ready to his next race in a couple of weeks time.
He recognised that "this Tour was not typical of any I have competed in. Everything was different from the beginning. In the end, I believe that Sastre could have done something, but what happened happened. Landis knew to recover his bad day and gave it everything."
Chechu also believes that this Tour "attracted fans, because it was different with exciting changes in leader and with the race only decided in the last stages."
24 JULY 2006 : CHECHU ON HIS TOUR DE FRANCE
At the end of the Tour, Chechu spoke with La Nueva España and El Comercio Digital about his struggle during the Tour.
ON HEALTH : He told El Comercio Digital that, of his six Tours, this has been the worst, although "I believe I did just enough not to retire, and hold on to the end."
At the start of the race, he had great hopes of a top ten place in the GC, mainly because he didn't have to work for Armstrong, and because some of the favourites were expelled.
"Prior to the Tour, it seemed easier to reach a good personal objective, but a strong infection left me without strength by the second week. I didn't want to take antibiotics, just in case."
In La Nueva España, Chechu gives some more detail. "The stage on Pla de Beret was my worst day, because on the Tourmalet, I was one of the five leaders in the break. I believed that I wouldn't reach the finish and thought about my group waiting for me. Soon there were stages when I could not keep up with my team. To see 170 cyclists go better than me was demoralising and very hard."
"Because of the headaches and nasal congestion, my doctor thinks I have sinusitis. But it surprises me that it affected my performance, leaving me with 50% of my output. I will have to investigate to see if there is something more. It was certain that the team did not perform well, but I was infinitely worse than all of them."
ON THE TOUR : He describes the Tour as "an exciting race, with the changes in leader, and no team in control. Sastre deserved the win, but Landis knew to control the day following his blow out. Even with a stronger Illes Baleares and other directors in T-Mobile and CSC, they could never recover the time lost to Landis. Pereiro had a great performance."
ON THE FUTURE : Chechu will finish his season in the Classic of San Sebastian, and later a race in France.
21 JULY 2006 : MORE ON HEALTH
ThePaceline.com asks Chechu the question we've been asking for 10 days. Chris Brewer says,
"When I asked Chechu what he thought of his Tour, the usual mountain man confirmed he was not in his best form. "I'm really tired. The first week I was OK but after that I have just gone down. I had a little cold, but I don’t think that really affected me. It's just been hard racing.""
18 JULY 2006 : HEALTH UPDATE
Chechu seems to have taken out a season ticket for the autobus during this Tour. It's an uncharacteristic position for him, and we've been trying to find out why.
With no news forthcoming from the Discovery team, a report in El Comercio Digital might suggest an answer.
Chechu Rubiera enjoyed the rest day, although without the company of his fellow Asturian, Benjamin Noval. For Chechu, up till now, the race "is very unusual, without leaders, more open than ever". He's not surprised that there is a lack of public interest, in his opinion, "this is a Tour for afficionados, to me it is very interesting."
Chechu admits that he hasn't reached his expected level. "Mentally I am well, but my performance has been almost nil, due to my cold". Fifteen days ago, he seemed destined to do great things in this Tour, but, due to bad health, he has "suffered like never before."
Chechu still hopes that his team can place a rider in the top ten of the GC.
12 JULY 2006 : LIFE WITHOUT ARMSTRONG
El Pais, based in Madrid, talked with the Discovery team to find out what life was like without Lance Armstrong. Seven years is too long to arrive in France and forget everything. Johan Bruyneel works hard to motivate his team for the Pyrenees stages, something unthinkable in the days of the boss, whose look was enough to motivate everyone.
"It's more peaceful," assured Chechu Rubiera, "we race more calmly, there is less bustle around the bus, in the hotels and on the road, we are more free." Such is life without Armstrong.
In the bus, there is an unusual calm. No bodyguards or police protection, gone are the crowds, the fans and the madness. Life without Armstrong is something else.
"We worked for a leader who did not fail. He liked to have it all tied up and demanded of us what he demanded of himself. Nobody offers the guarantees and security of Armstrong." recalls Rubiera. Now "the way we work has changed. I have more freedom to do something for myself."
6 JULY 2006 : CHECHU RUBIERA "THE FIRST DAYS DID NOT SEEM LIKE THE TOUR"
When La Neuva Espana talked to Chechu about the first few days of the Tour, it seemed all was not well.
"It is very warm ... The first days did not seem like the Tour, because escapes were allowed. During the difficult start, there are nerves, tension and falls. In the crash involving Valverde, he went to his right side and I avoided it by a miracle. Another good cyclist goes home. And Dekker fell like a potato sack. I was scared. I feared the worst, seeing the blow he took to his face, he wasn't moving on the road."
With the unexpected, early responsibility of the yellow jersey behind them, they now have a "more relaxed and less tiring" race.
As the race neared the German border, Chechu noticed that there were not so many fans at the roadside, a result perhaps of the expulsion of Ullrich from the Tour.
And now with Valverde gone, the Tour is wide open. "Right now, I can't say who would win. Of the rivals, there's Landis, also Evans, Zubeldia and Mayo. At the moment, I don't think about the GC, only about finding my rhythm, day to day, ahead of the mountains. I believe that, until the time trial, much cannot be valued."
3 JULY 2006 : CHECHU ON CAMERA
There's brief video interview with Chechu Rubiera on Velonews, at the finish of stage 2 on 3 July. Chechu talks about the heat and giving up the yellow jersey after one day.
3 JULY 2006 : CHECHU RUBIERA "IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASY"
El Comercio Digital spoke with Chechu Rubiera yesterday, riding once again for the Tour leader. He agreed that, after the dramatic events last week, it was not going to be easy to focus only on cycling. "But we are going to try. It is a different tour, because of everything that has happened. The opportunities for the second (favourites) are very even. I am mentally prepared to work in a similar way to the other races, as ordered by the sport director."
He confirmed that he was well, "but I have scarcely trained since the Giro and the Tour is very demanding from the first day."
1 JULY 2006 : CHECHU RUBIERA AGREES "THE RACE HAS CHANGED"
El Comercio Digital spoke with Chechu Rubiera on Friday, as he rested in his Strasbourg hotel with room-mate Benjamín Noval.
Chechu Rubiera recognises that the Tour has been marred by recent events in connection with Operación Puerto; but also the absence of Armstrong after seven years of victories.
He said that he was "very worried about everything that has happened, this Tour no longer has the same value."
Of the cyclists who have gone home - Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso - he said, "it does not mean that they stop being great champions, although, at some moments, they have been mistaken."
This will be Chechu's sixth Tour de France and his objective is to finish in the top ten of the General Classification, "but this will be determined day by day during the race. Now the race, without doubt, is much more open."
30 JUNE 2006 : BRUYNEEL ON NEW TEAM STRATEGY
After 24 hours of drama, Johan Bruyneel discussed how the changed situation would affect the Discovery Channel team's racing strategy.
"We've come to the Tour with the knowledge that we have a strong team - a very deep team - and while there's always going to be individual riders that a little stronger - the men I mentioned (Menchov and Valverde) - we have a strong group that can do a lot of damage to those riders.
When I think of our guys like George, Popo, Jose, Paolo - Chechu even - I don't see the difference between them and the new favorites is that big anymore. Basso and Ullrich - it was quite big - but those other guys? They are in our reach.
So I would definitely like to start the Tour with the same idea that we came here with: knowing that we have nothing to prove, but that everything is possible, and nothing is an obligation ... we'll watch it from a distance in the beginning. Hopefully stay as close as possible and take advantage of an opportunity when we see it."
Read the full interview with OLN's Craig Hummer on The Paceline.
Photograph by Liz Kreutz, thepaceline.com.
28 JUNE 2006 : ASTURIAS MEDIA
With the main Spanish media buzzing with doping revelations and allegations, El Comercio Digital and La Nueva España, online news outlets based in Asturias, reported Chechu Rubiera's journey to France.
Earlier this week, Chechu and Benjamin Noval travelled together to Strasbourg for the start of the Tour de France thisSaturday.
Chechu was later spotted in Strasbourg, chatting with George Hincapie, and looking relaxed. As well as training, Chechu and the team have undertaken medical examinations and the team presentation.
Photographs by (L) R. Gonzalez, elcomerciodigital.com and (R) AFP, CyclingNews.com.
24 JUNE 2006 : CHECHU ON GIRO d'ITALIA
CyclingNews.com and other media outlets have reported the publication of a response from riders to the conditions they experienced during Giro d'Italia 2006.
CyclingNews.com says: "In a report written at the request of many riders who took part in the Giro d’Italia 2006, José Luís Rubiera Vigil, a delegate of the riders' union CPA within the UCI Pro Tour Council, denounced the "difficult conditions" the riders were facing during the event. Especially the length of the transfers during the race (2,700 km, as well as 1,500 from Belgium to Italy and from the South to the North of the Peninsula) represented "an unbearable extra work" according to the CPA.
The late arrivals in the hotels for the various teams, an obvious consequence of those long transfers, prevented on several occasions the riders having the massage they deserved and needed," a communiqué stated.
"The rest days were wrongly programmed (the first one after only four days) without forgetting the fact that they were spent in travelling. The courses were excessively difficult, as the fact proves it of having to use gear ratios which are usually not used in races (34x25 and 36x27).
With regard to safety, the finish in Sestri Levante was a true danger, to avoid absolutely in the future."
You'll find find out more about the CPA, the professional cyclists' association, at their website. It's a couple of months out of date and there's no mention of the latest communiqué. But worth a look if you like rules and contract information. Chechu is an elected riders' representative of the CPA.
31 MAY 2006
It is reported today by El Comercio Digital in Asturias, that Chechu Rubiera has signed a new two year contract with Discovery Channel Pro Cycle Team.
Chechu will continue to race with Discovery until he is 35 years old, which El Comercio speculates will mean him finishing his professional career with the team.
Chechu joined US Postal Service (now Discovery Channel) at the end of 2000, and supported Lance Armstrong in five of his seven Tour de France wins.
PS : Chechu tells us (5 June) that the deal has been agreed but contract's not signed yet.
from Daily Peloton, April 2006
‘Chechu' free to fly again : José Luis Rubiera has been a fixture at Discovery Channel since joining the team for the 2001 season, but now he's relishing the opportunity to show what he can do.
Always a loyal lieutenant to seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, "Chechu" is free to fly again this year as the team reloads in the post-Armstrong era.
Speaking to journalists at the recent Tour of the Basque Country, the Spanish climbing ace says he's looking forward to chance to stake out some results for himself.
"We have a lot of experience on this team from many years and we all knew, before working for Armstrong, another way of racing. This is what we have to do this year," he told Diario Vasco. "Now we have to race differently, in a more aggressive manner than we have before, but we'll have a result even more attractive."
Rubiera stressed that he has no regrets at all about sacrificing the best years of his career to work for Armstrong. In the late 1990s, Rubiera was a rising Spanish prospect, notching top 10 finishes in both the Vuelta and the Giro, where he also won a stage in the 2000 edition.
It was those results that caught the eye of Armstrong and Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel to lure him to the then-U.S. Postal Service team in the 2001 season.
"With Lance things were very good because he was a great racer and a very generous leader," he said. "I don't think about it twice to have worked for him for so many years. I would do it all again."